January 18, 2016

By Allan  



Hello Roadrunners,

Our superintendent was rightfully impressed with Howard this past week during his visit. The first thing he told me at the end of his visit was, “You have some great teachers here!” He said classes were all well organized, teachers were using best instructional practices, and that classes all seemed to be working off the same page. He didn’t have any critiques or mention a single concerns, so I think he left Howard quite impressed. He also commented that we have very nice and friendly kids here at Howard.

Twelve items of note this week:

• January 29 Grading Day Staff Expectations – Taking classified staff first, this is a regular work day for most people, and I need to use this day to meet with classified staff from 8:30-10:30. The three agenda items we need to cover are the CAP (Comprehensive Achievement Plan) staff survey, input on updating PBIS rules/expectations for the new building, and also a required training on grooming & boundary invasion. We’ll plan to meet in the library. I realize grading days are usually a time classified staff use accumulated comp time, but two of the items on the agenda need to be completed before our next PD day in March. I’ll be sure to have some good snacks for folks at the meeting and staff are welcome to use comp time following the meeting.

For licensed staff, HR last year allowed teachers to request to work from home on grading days. Below are the expectations HR set out for licensed staff for grading days last time around and I’m assuming it’s the same for this year:

Unlike a planning or PD day, where the District has a firm expectation that all teachers report and be physically present throughout the work day, we have exercised greater flexibility for grading days in recognition of teachers’ professional status. On grading/ report days, principals have discretion to require that all teachers report and work on their grades at the building, or alternatively, to allow teachers to request permission to work from home, and report to the building when grades are completed. In exercising this discretion, please consider the following:

(1) Would allowing a teacher to work from home on this day interfere with work that needs to be done? For example, do you have teachers who need to collaborate with each other in order to prepare reports? — if so, it does not make sense to allow them to work in isolation;

(2) Grading day is a work day. It costs the district about $480,000, and it is not intended to be a vacation day.

(3) Teachers are highly visible members of the community, and part of our expectation of them as professionals is to be good stewards of public resources. If you do allow teachers to work off site this day, please remind them public perception issues and work to protect them. This means that if we grant flexibility to work off-site, it is critical that they work during work time. We grant flexibility to principals to allow teachers to work off-site on grading day, but if it is abused, we will not be able to continue to do so.

(4) The flexibility to work off-site is a privilege, and not an entitlement. Whether you allow any teacher to work off-site is within your discretion. I believe the best practice is to communicate to teachers is that you expect them to work in the building on this day, unless they have requested and received your advance permission to work from home.

So in short, if teachers would like to work from home this day, let me me know, but be sure to make plans ahead of time if you need to collaborate with colleagues for grading. Also, be sure to use this time for grading and not use it to run errands around town.

• PTO Meeting, Tuesday at 6:00 – The January PTO meeting will be this Tuesday, 6:00-7:00 PM in the library if any staff are able to attend. This could be an interesting meeting because the 4J Risk Manager, Randi Bowers-Payne, will be giving a presentation on how parents can keep their kids safe on the internet and social media. Hope to see some of you there!

• Safety Inspection Coming – Our annual safety inspection is coming up in a couple weeks on grading day, Jan. 29th. Please check your areas for the most common safety violations:

• Unlabeled spray bottles.
• 3 foot pathway to all of your exit doors.
• Cord covers for all power cords in walk ways.
• Power strips plugged into another power strip.
• Use of extension cords.
• Items hanging from lights or the ceiling.

And we’re really not supposed to have anything on our doors either, but as long as the fire marshall isn’t part of the inspection we’ll be fine there, so don’t bother taking down any door decorations at this time. Let me know if you have any questions on any of this.

• Fire Drill, Wednesday, Jan. 20th at 8:30 – If the weather cooperates, we’ll hold our January Fire Drill this week on Wednesday, January, 20th at 8:30. If we’re rained out, we’ll try for the same time next week on Wednesday.

• New Building Updates – Link here are the minutes from the last Owner/Architect/General Contractor (OAC) Meeting and below are a few related items of note:

• History Infographic Revision – I shared an earlier draft of the historical infographic that’s planned to go into the main hallway entrance of the new building. Linked here is a refined version of the two difference concepts for the graphic, one is the “Tree Ring” design and the other a traditional linear timeline design. The content is still a placeholder. Facilities needs to finalize the design choice (Tree Ring or Line of History) to developed into a final draft. If you’d like to weigh in, let me know which version you prefer by the end of the week. My own preference is the Tree Ring design, but I’d like to hear from others as well. If we did go in the direction of the Tree Ring design, I think we should make sure:

• The number of rings on the tree should represent the number of years being discussed in the history of the are and school. This way we have the history learning tool and the reality of the “counting of the tree rings” to align with the number of years of history covered by the display.
• We include frontal shots or aerials of the original school and the new school on the display associated with their dates on the timeline.

• Pre-K Possibility – In addition to gaining the Early Childhood Team, there’s a possibility we might actually get to have the first district sponsored Pre-K program at our school! It’s far from a done deal since 4J is in no position to fund staff for such a program, but they’re partnering with a Pre-K advocacy group who’s applying for a state grant, where they would provide the staffing and 4J simply provides the facility. The grant would require the program target underserved students, meaning 200% below the poverty level (Head Start requires families to be 100% below the poverty level), the hours would need to be equal to kindergarten (i.e.. full day, though they would have the option to do a shorted day and extend into the summer), and teachers would be required to have a bachelors degree. Besides providing early education opportunities, the other goal of the grant is to connect families with outside services, so maybe this would be a reason for the district to look at funding a Family Resource Center at our building, which we actually have a designated space for across from the front office. Keep your fingers crossed this actually comes through!

• Updated Health Standards – 4J hasn’t shared these with staff yet, but Rachel shared with me the most recent Oregon Health Standards for K-3 and 4-5 if you’d like to look them over.

• Artist in Residence Options – At Tuesday’s Staff Meeting, I’d like to decide on an Artist in Residences and also a date for the artist to come to school. If you haven’t already, take a look at the Lane Arts Artist Residencies webpage for a list of all the artist and let me know if you have any early favorites for artists or dates.

• News from the Emerald Empire Reading Council – Here’s the January Newsletter from the Emerald Empire Reading Council. This month’s newsletter includes a number of workshops and some recommended books. If you’d like more information, visit their frames-heavy website.

• Care Team Referrals – The Student Care Team will be meeting next week, which means referrals to the team are due this Friday. The Care Team can help with a variety of stations including recent or impending homelessness, paying utility bills, incarcerated parents, counseling resources, and many others. DHS can also provide us with updates for any reports we’ve made and wanted updates on what action they’ve taken. Linked here is the 4J Release Form (PDF or DOC) if you can obtain a parent or guardian signature, but you can also refer “hypothetical” student or family situations. Let me know if you have any questions about potential referrals, but if it’s a situation that’s on your mind, it’s probably a worth referring to the team.

• Watch: One-Minute Mindfulness Strategy – In their research, “The Mindful School Leader” authors Valerie Brown and Kirsten Olson found that most educators are overwhelmed and often don’t take the time for self-care. In this ASCD Express video, they demonstrate a quick, 30-60 second breathing strategy that is an easy way to incorporate mindfulness and repose throughout a busy day. Try incorporating this exercise whenever you can find a free minute, whether first thing in the morning, at the close of the day, or anywhere in between.

• Schedule of Events for the Week – See the Google Calendar for future events, but here are the events of note for the next two weeks:

January 18 (M)
No School – Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 19 (T)
Progress Monitoring Week 6
9:00, Allan meeting w/Bricks4Kids (Office)
4:00, Allan to All Admin Meeting for Preliminary Budget & Staffing Info (Ed Center)
2:30-3:30, Staff Meeting (Library)
6:00-7:00, PTO Meeting (Library)

January 20 (W)
8:30, Fire Drill
9:00-10:00, Allan to Truancy Hearing (Office)
9:00-11:00, Allan to OAC Meeting (Construction Trailer)

January 21 (H)
8:00-1:00, Data Team Meetings (Staff Room)

January 22 (F)
8:00-4:00, Carla, AJ and Allan to LEL Meeting (Gilham)
6:00-8:00, PTO Family Movie Night (Gym)

January 23 (S)
9:00-12:00, School Choice Showcase (Ed Center)

January 25 (M)
School Choice Visitation Week
11:30-3:30, Robin & Allan to Title 1 Coordinators and Principals’ Meeting (Ed Center)
2:30-3:30, Site Council Meeting (Staff Room)

January 26 (T)
Last Day of PE
2:30-3:30, IPBS Meeting (Room 1)

January 27 (W)
8:00-1:00, Vision Screening (Gym)
10:10-11:00, Allan to OAC Meeting (Construction Trailer)
1:30-2:30, PBIS Meeting (Room 21)
2:30-3:30, Student Care Team Meeting (Staff Room)

January 28 (H)
3:15-5:15, Allan and KG Teachers to Monthly Kindergarten Meeting (Gilham)

January 29 (F)
8:30-10:30, Classified Staff Meeting (Room 8)
10:45, Annual Safety Inspection
1:00-5:00, Allan to All Admin OSEA/HR Training (Ed Center)

Hope you all enjoy(ed) your Monday off!



Photos by Shelly S. Pie by Rae. Maniacal glee by Mellissa.